Unions in this country have been losing membership since 1930, when more than a third of non-farm workers belonged to a labor organization. Now, however, one group of employees is showing strong interest in unionizing.
Charlottesville is a relatively small city – with a metro population of about 150,000. Its newspaper – the Daily Progress – is also small, with a reporting staff of 16, but those workers are following a big city trend, telling management they intend to join a union.
“Most of us struggle to afford to live here. We’re also hoping to discuss severance and layoff notices, because layoffs are just a part of the job these days,” says Nolan Stout. He covers city hall for the paper and – like most of his colleagues – makes less than $40,000 a year.
His paper is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, and the logical way to deal with a big corporation, he says, is to organize.
“Having a collective voice instead of individuals going one by one would make more of an impact,” says Stout.
Management must now decide whether to accept the request or force workers to take a vote.
Berkshire Hathaway also owns non-union papers in Richmond, Roanoke, Fredericksburg, Lynchburg, Culpeper, Danville and Martinsville. Last year competitors in Norfolk and Newport News joined the news guild – a division of the Communication Workers of America.